In July I was delighted the Prime Minister asked me to chair a cross-government inter ministerial group on family support from conception to age two. This will seek to identify gaps in available provision and make recommendations on how coordination across departments can be improved and explore what more the government can do to ensure we act early to help every child get the best possible start in life.
The vital importance of supporting the first 1,001 days from conception to the age of two has been a long-standing passion of mine. A baby’s earliest experiences determine their lifelong emotional health, so a secure early start can protect young people from later mental health problems and contribute significantly to reducing major social harms.
The review will build on recent government policy in this area including NHS England’s Maternity Transformation Programme, expanding provision for perinatal mental health care, building parents’ confidence to begin the learning process from the home, and supporting thousands of families with access to free childcare.
The members of the group are Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Justin Tomlinson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance, Nadhim Zahawi, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, Jackie Doyle-Price Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health and Inequalities, Rishi Sunak, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Local Government and Vicky Atkins, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability.
I am looking forward to more progress being made in the New Year and to the group making recommendations in the Spring.